The Comptroller’s role is the chief accountability officer for the City who helps ensure that government delivers the results people want, including clean and safe streets, good schools, a fair and growing economy, and well-functioning infrastructure.
The position of Comptroller serves one main purpose: to provide a check on the power of the Mayor and the growing bureaucracy, centrally-controlled by the Mayor.
Today, the main functions provided by Baltimore’s Office of the Comptroller are:
- City Auditor. Through its Department of Audits, the Comptroller’s Office provides regular financial and performance audits of City agencies. The Comptroller is responsible for checking the books and they also determine the efficiency of the City offices and programs delivering results to the public.
- Oversight via the Board of Estimates. The Comptroller has a vote on the Board of Estimates, which oversees the City’s budgeting, spending, and procurement contracts.
- Independent Accountant. The Comptroller’s office prepares the Consolidated Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and other key accounting documents as the City’s independent accountant.
- Managing Real Estate. The Comptroller is the head of the Department of Real Estate which manages the City’s real estate holdings.
- Finance and Pensions. The Comptroller sits on the Board of Finance and the boards that oversee the City’s pension funds. The Board of Finance issues City bonds and loans, reviews the City’s capital budget, and oversees all City trusts and investments.
- The Comptroller is the head of the Department of Communications Services, which is comprised of the Municipal Telephone Exchange and the Municipal Post Office.
As we move into the third decade of the 21st century, it is time for the Comptroller’s Office to refocus on its role as the watchdog of the City’s affairs. Furthermore, this must be done in a way that uses the tools and techniques of a data-driven society and an information-based economy. In order to provide real accountability on behalf of the public, the Comptroller must take the lead in providing not only transparent data, but also useful analysis of City functions. By virtue of being independently elected, the Comptroller is insulated from the politics of the Mayor and City Council. The Comptroller is best situated to answer the question “Is the City government is producing the results residents deserve?”